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Charity Sector Split on Call to Merge

12 November 2015 at 11:45 am
Xavier Smerdon
There has been a mixed reaction from the charity and Not for Profit sector to calls for hundreds of organisations to “put their egos aside” and merge or shut down altogether.

Xavier Smerdon | 12 November 2015 at 11:45 am


Charity Sector Split on Call to Merge
12 November 2015 at 11:45 am

There has been a mixed reaction from the charity and Not for Profit sector to calls for hundreds of organisations to “put their egos aside” and merge or shut down altogether.

As revealed by Pro Bono Australia News yesterday, the CEOs of the Community Council for Australia (CCA), David Crosbie, and World Vision, Tim Costello, claimed that too many charities were competing against each other, creating a significant amount of wasted effort.

Crosbie said collaboration and possible mergers should be a part of future planning for all organisations.

“Self-interest can be a hard thing for charities to put aside, however we are in the business of serving communities, not ourselves,” Crosbie said.

“Charities and Not for Profits serving the same communities may need to work much harder at collaboration and possible merges, not just because it is in their interests but in the interests of the communities they serve.”

They were joined in their call to action by CEO of Save the Children Australia, Paul Ronalds, and CEO of the organisation it merged with, Good Beginnings Australia, Jayne Meyer Tucker.

The calls came the same week that television and radio personality, Carrie Bickmore, launched her own charity to tackle brain cancer.

But Pro Bono Australia News readers were split on the issue, with many calling it an unrealistic way of looking at the diverse charity sector in Australia.

“Massive oversimplification. Would you also say there are 'too many' commercial businesses in Aus?” Jonathan Smith said on twitter.

“A simplistic proposition that doesn't reflect true pressures on the sector,” Not for Profit Youth Projects added.

Stephen Fiyalko questioned the motives behind the push for mergers.

“The question defines a self-serving answer. Subsuming diversity and vibrant community voices protects whom from competition?” Fiyalko said.

Others said the message was long overdue and called for action to be taken.

“An interesting conversation to have,” twitter user Annabelita said.

“I wonder if individuals who set up tribute charities should work with a larger charity rather than go it alone.”

“Agree there needs to be collaboration, every second person in Australia seems to be starting their own charity these days with little skill in actually working on the ground or understanding accountability procedures,” Katherine Franks said on facebook.

“Amazing how everyone seems to go on a holiday and come back to start a Not for Profit, the new trend of Aus.”

Pro Bono Australia News twitter followers also took part in a poll, with the majority saying they supported the call to merge.

Australia’s politicians were also divided on the issue, with Social Services Minister, Christian Porter, saying her supported the sector “making decisions around improving efficiency and how best to work together”.

Greens Senator, Rachel Siewert, defended small charities and their outcomes.

“There are lots of small grassroots Not for Profits doing incredible work and there are many of these that should not be absorbed into bigger organisations. We support a diverse and multi-faceted charities sector with organisations both big and small,” Senator Siewert said.

“As we’ve learnt from the chaotic IAS and Department of Social Services funding process – large organisations that may appeal to the Government may not have the same connection with community that smaller grassroots organisations maintain.”

For Pro Bono Australia News’ full coverage on the calls to merge, click here.

Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist  |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

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